Passport control from the top of the world

Norway will introduce passport control for travelers betwwen Longyearbyen and the Norwegian main land.

Norwegian authorities will introduce passport control for travelers to and from the Norwegian mainland to Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost town.

Svalbard is a part of Norway, but not a part of the Schengen-area. Until now, travelers can however fly from Longyearbyen airport on Svalbard to Tromsø in Northern Norway without being subject to passport control upon arrival at the airport in Tromsø.

The purpose of the passport control would be to reduce the chance of criminals or terrorists crossing in and out of Svalbard.

Norway became a part of the Schengen area in 2001. In 2008 the Justice Ministry announced that it also wanted travelers to and from Svalbard to pass through passport control. The initiative from the Justice Ministry was met with skepticism from both the local population in Longyearbyen as well as from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They said the move was unnecessary, arguing that Svalbard is a part of Norway and it is not desirable that people should have to show their passports when traveling within the country.
The local newspaper Svalbardposten has got access to internal documents from the authorities stating that passport control will be introduced, whatever the counter-arguments are.

The Norwegian Justice Ministry claims that Svalbard is not technically included in the Schengen area that allows citizens from member countries to cross borders without a passport. While Norway is a member of Schengen, Svalbard is a special administrative area that falls under Norway’s jurisdiction, and thus needs its own passport control.